Gene Shortage Might Lead To Shorter Height

We continue to look at the possible causes of short stature. This article talked about an idea on something that I never thought was possible. Again I will highlight the parts of the article which I found the most interesting and informative. A full analysis, and review on the information will be done to connect it to how the technology can be used towards height increase.

I found the article in USA Today. You can get to the original article by clicking HERE.

Gene shortage might lead to shorter height, study says

By Maureen Salamon, HealthDay

Updated 11/27/2011 6:04 PM

Tall or short, it’s long been known that genes account for much of a person’s height. Now, scientists have found that short people actually might be missing copies of certain genes, which can leave them significantly smaller than average.

Studying DNA from more than 11,000 children and adults, an international team of researchers learned that those of short stature — defined roughly as falling into the shortest 2.5 percent of their peer group — had an excess number of rare deletions, or missing copies, of specific genes. Thus far, most research into genes and height has centered on identifying variations in common genes instead of an absence of others, study author Dr. Joel Hirschhorn said.

“We were a little bit surprised, since we didn’t really know what we would find going in [to the study] and whether we would see enough of an effect,” said Hirschhorn, a professor of genetics at Children’s Hospital Boston. “We were trying to figure out what’s the underlying genetics of height and things like it, and this is a class of variation less well studied.”

The study is published in the December issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Common gene variants linked to height explain only about 10 percent of the variation in adult height, Hirschhorn said, but perhaps half of such variation might eventually be explained by some of the differences his team studied.

First analyzing the DNA of more than 4,400 children whose genetic material was collected for other purposes, the researchers observed that many more CNVs or “copy-number variants” — in this case, fewer copies of a gene — were present in those of short stature.

Extending the findings to a larger, population-based group of nearly 6,900 African Americans, the scientists again found that shorter participants had an excess of such missing gene copies. These deletions would typically be inherited from one’s parents, but not always, Hirschhorn said.

“Usually [researchers] look at variants one at a time, but this is a cumulative-effect type of variation,” said Hirschhorn, also a senior associate at the Broad Institute, a biomedical research organization in Cambridge, Mass.

Several limitations might affect the validity of the study results, the authors acknowledged. One is the fact that children whose DNA was evaluated had initially undergone genetic analysis for other reasons such as developmental delays, autism spectrum disorders and multiple birth defects. So it’s possible that those with many missing gene copies are likelier to have conditions leading to poor growth, the study said, but the replication of results in a more representative population suggests the findings can be generalized to others.

SOURCES: Joel N. Hirschhorn, M.D., Ph.D., professor of genetics, Children’s Hospital Boston, senior associate, Broad Institute, Cambridge, Mass.; December 2011,American Journal of Human Genetics

Me: One of the theories I have been proposed with was that the growth plates also go through the process of senescence so the idea is that taller people have growth plates that go through senescence slower than people who have growth plates that senescence affects more pronouncely. If the senescence of  growth plates is effected in the same way that the process of senescence affects the entire human body, we can say that the telomere lengths thus determines how long the growth plates stay active. Since telomere shortening is believed to be the main cause of aging (senescence) it would make sense that a a telomere with extra genes of any kind would lengthen at a shorter rate. So from that logic, we can make the logical claim that people with less genes means shorter telomeres so they would result in being shorter than average. 

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